Weekly Reading Insights: Massey 5765


Overview of the Weekly Reading: Massey

To be read on 1 Av 5765 (Aug. 6)

Torah: Numbers 33:1-36:13
: Jeremiah 2:4-28, 3:4, 4:1-2 (Second haftorah of affliction)

Pirkei Avot Chapter 2

Massey is the 10th Reading out of 10 in Numbers and 43rd overall, and 39th out of 54 in overall length.

Massey begins listing the 42 different journeys the Jews traversed during their 40 years in the desert. Then, G-d commands that when the Jews will cross the Jordan to conquer the land of Canaan, they must completely drive out the inhabitants and destroy all idolatry. The Land is then to be divided according to tribes and families through a special type of Divinely conducted lottery system. G-d also defines the specific borders of the Land and lists leaders from each tribe who will help parcel out the Land. The Levites are also to be given 48 residential cities. These include 6 cities of refuge-havens to which the accidental murderer escapes from the blood avenger, a relative of the killed. Here are detailed many laws concerning intentional and unintentional bloodshed. The parsha ends with the tribe of Menashe complaining that their tribal inheritance would be diminished due to the daughters of Tzelofchad inheriting their father’s portion. The sisters are then told that if they want to keep the inheritance, they must marry only men from their own tribe ensuring that their sons who inherit the land would also be from the tribe of Menashe.
With the conclusion of Massai, we complete the book of Bamidbar (Numbers).
Chazak, Chazak, Venitchazek!


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:43-65/Massey)

It is also written that the wise hearted women "spun with their hands". What is this "spinning"? Rabbi Yehuda said that they spun together strictness and mercy.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

* * * * *

From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:42-65/Mattot)

Now we will explain the idea of a vow. Just as Arich Anpin looks out and shines forth from its forehead of goodwill toward the forehead of Zeir Anpin and its intellect, so does Zeir Anpin look out toward the forehead of its Nukva in order to shine his three intelligences to her.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

* * * * *

From the "Ohr HaChaim". (S:43-65/Massey)

The Torah itself describes the superior nature of these journeys by stressing that they occurred as an aftermath of the Exodus from Egypt, i.e. after the Israelites had been refined in the Exodus from Egypt - after the Israelites had been refined in the iron crucible called Egypt. This enabled them to isolate sparks of sanctity wherever they would encounter them.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


"These are the journeys of the Children of Israel." (33:1)
In the entire narrative of the Jewish people's journeys through the desert, the Hebrew letter "zayin" does not appear even once. This alludes to the fact that they did not journey on Shabbat ("zayin," with a numerical equivalent of seven, alludes to the seventh day), and that they did not need to resort to weapons ("zayin" also means weaponry or arms).
(Ahavat HaTorah)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org


"These are the journeys of the Children of Israel." (Num. 33:1)
Moses documented all the journeys of the Children of Israel through the desert; this record then became part and parcel of the Torah. Similarly, all the wanderings and misfortunes of the Jewish people during the present exile are being recorded; when Moshiach comes, they will constitute a book from which all will learn.

(Rabbi David of Lelov)

[Reprinted with permission from L'Chaim Magazine (www.lchaim.org).]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:43-65/Massey)

There are a number of convergences this Shabbat, and each one should be taken advantage of to advance spiritually. First, we read Parshat Massai, meaning 'journeys'. This reminds us that life is a journey, more like a marathon than a sprint.

Second, as it is also the last portion of the book of Bamidbar, we bless each other at its conclusion, Chazak, Chazak, Venitchazek.

Third, this Shabbat is also Rosh Chodesh-the 'head' of the month, and fourth, it is also Rosh Chodesh of the month of Av, the beginning of the nine days of mourning connected to the destruction of the Temples.

Fifth and finally, it is the Shabbat that precedes the 5th day of Av, the Hillula (day of the passing) of the great tzadik and kabbalist, Rabbi Yitzchok Luria-the 'Ari'-the 'Lion of Safed'. Shabbat is the vessel for all the blessings of the week that follows it. Our success at connecting to the secrets the Ari taught depends on our action on the Shabbat before.

Avraham HaLevi was a very pious person who served first as a sexton for Rabbi Moshe Cordevero and after his passing, for the Ari. One Shabbat afternoon during the portion of Balak, R' Avraham came to the Ari and found him sleeping.

The Ari taught that sleeping on Shabbat, specifically in the daytime, is very important (though not during the week). Only on Shabbat is there a possibility of one's soul connecting to the soul of a tzadik in heaven, who will help and enlighten that person.

R' Avraham could hear the Ari speaking softly and leaned over to hear what he was saying. This awakened the Ari and he asked R' Avraham what it is he wanted there? R' Avraham answered, 'Forgive me my master, but I saw you speaking Torah.'

The Ari said that each time he would sleep on Shabbat, his soul would ascend until the angel who is the Minister of the Interior of the heavens, who would ask the Ari at which yeshiva would he like to study.

The Ari told R' Avraham that, "Heaven and earth are my witness, even if I would lecture for 80 years without pause I would not be able to finish teaching what I learned during this visit about Balaam and the donkey."

The Lubavitcher Rebbe explained one of the most basic lessons from Parshat Massai is that every Jew-young and old, educated and ignorant, wise and not-yet-wise-has to "journey", constantly on the move, rising from one level to the next higher level in his understanding of and in his connection to G-d. Every child is able, every adult is obliged.

The reason 'journeys' is plural hints to us, not only that the challenge to grow is constantly renewed, but also, that this challenge includes both the body and the soul. A person must train and purify his body so it may be used in service of G-d.

The Rebbe mentioned the Rebbe Rashab who was once asked what was the Torah source for a certain action he did. The Rashab answered that while at this moment he did not remember the source, he was sure there was one since he had long since trained his body to do what it needed to do only according to the Torah code of law.

The Munkatcher Rebbe ("Torat Shabbat") quoted the Ari about the 42 journeys the portion discusses. This number hints to the divine name of 'Mem Bet'-42-that is coded into the part of the liturgy called 'Ana B'koach' of the daily prayers. This prayer is like a ladder into the higher spiritual realms.

According to the Ari, we also say the Ana B'Koach formula during the Kabbalat Shabbat service because there is no greater journey of the week than into the spiritual power of the higher worlds of Shabbat. The Ari also requires that when saying kadish during Kabbalat Shabbat, one intends the intentions of Ana B'koach too. The Munkatcher connects this to the Chassidic custom to read Hodu (from Psalms) Friday night because it speaks there about being redeemed from difficulties that rule our weekday efforts, and the essence of Shabbat is that we move away from the physicality of the world.

This is the reason for the order of first Hodu (which remove from us the weekday difficulties), then Ana B'koach (to begin our journey from the mundane to the holy), and then to intend again the Ana B'koach (to break through into the spiritual worlds).

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

P.S. Please also read my weekly Shabbat Law, below.)

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